Dundee-based Discovery Languages, owned by Ruth Bickerton and Sandra Crowther, offers bespoke language tuition in 12 different modern languages with native-speaking tutors, either individually or as part of a group.
Q. Why did you start in business?
A. We both love languages and are great supporters of life-long learning.
A. How did you get to where you are?
A. Lots of late nights and hard work, juggling homeschooling and family life.
The business opportunity came when Sandra was working at Tayside Language Centre (TLC) as a teacher and the owners retired from running the business.
We then set up a new business – Discovery Languages.
Q. How has the business been impacted by coronavirus?
A. The last six months have been uncertain for everyone, due to the pandemic, so we have tried to be as flexible as possible for our students.
The business model has entirely changed – all of the lessons we had expected to be running face-to-face were quickly moved online.
This was quite a challenge to us, our tutors and our students.
However, being online has allowed us to offer our services more widely.
In fact, we now have students not just in the Tayside area, but also further afield in England and even the USA.
Q. Who has helped you along the way?
A. We are really grateful to Stuart Milne, Ann Kerr and Jenny McCullagh at Business Gateway.
Most of all though, we are hugely grateful to our excellent tutors, who have been so adaptable and flexible in suddenly switching to online tuition, and our students, whose desire to continue learning and communicating has continued through these most difficult of times.
Q. What has been your biggest mistake?
Too much coffee late in the evening.
Q. What has been your greatest achievement?
A. We are delighted that we were able to help people online during the global pandemic to carry on or start their language learning journey. At the start, some people were hesitant or nervous about the online challenge, but were pleasantly surprised how easy the online experience is and how much they enjoyed it.
Also, our business language tuition has been popular with many companies who need support for their staff.
We also offer lunchtime language classes for employees as a company perk.
Q. What are your hopes for the future?
A. We want to grow the business and help people achieve their language learning goals in Tayside and beyond.
We have some taster classes running for five weeks, starting this month, where you can learn the basics of a language with one of our tutors.
There’s never a better time to try something new.
Q. Are you hoping to recruit in future?
A. We are always looking for experienced tutors in a wide variety of languages.
Q. What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
A. Not switching off – literally.
Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
A. Anything is possible. Don’t let the circumstances put you off.
Just roll your sleeves up, don’t be afraid to ask for help and do your best.